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FLM 139 — James Stewart: Hollywood's Greatest and Most Misunderstood Actor

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 12—Mar 16
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 14
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $465
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 12—Mar 16
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 14
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Mick LaSalle
We remember James Stewart as even-tempered, yet in his movies he flew off the handle constantly. We remember him as playing naive bumpkins, yet his naivete was usually a shrewd man’s pose. We remember him as laconic ,when he mostly talked a blue streak, and unflappable, when he did more crying on screen than any major actor before or since. What we don’t often remember—or even realize—is that James Stewart had the greatest career in the history of American film.

In this course, we take a deep dive into the expansive career of this American actor, whose work embodied the story of his country for some four decades. Through clips and feature films—from The Shopworn Angel (1938) through The Shootist (1976), with stops along the way for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and other classics—we will examine his work with the best filmmakers of his time (Hitchcock, Ford, Cukor, Preminger, Lubitsch, Anthony Mann).

Stewart played men who other people assumed were simple but who were invariably smarter, deeper, stronger, angrier, creepier, weirder, or simply better than anyone might have guessed. Cinema’s patron saint of the "average man," Stewart teaches us that anyone who underestimates the average man is a fool, and that every life is something enormous.

All films can be rented or streamed through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play Movies, or other online platforms.

Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man, The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses, and Dream State: California in the Movies. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and other Hearst newspapers.